January 2021 | latest update: April 2023 | by Lili
Founded in 2005 and based in the US (New York City), Etsy is a global online marketplace that provides a platform for artisans, antique sellers, and artists.
Individual sellers can create their own virtual storefront within Etsy and deal with buyers directly. The marketplace provides the framework and infrastructure, like payment processing and shipping labels, for a fee.
Visualisation of the marketplace Etsy
The most popular articles available on the platform are hand-crafted jewellery, home decor, vintage items, furniture, art and craft supplies.
But most Etsy sellers are not hobby artists who sell their handmade jewellery for a small price. In fact, 61% of Etsy sellers are multi-channel retailers, also active on other platforms like Amazon or eBay.
While Etsy was successful even pre-2020, it’s the coronavirus pandemic that shot the marketplace to international fame. In 2020, Etsy’s stock tripled its worth on the stock market. The secret behind this success was a new accessory that quickly became a must-have around the world: face masks.
Screenshot of listings of handmade masks on Etsy
But while masks greatly contributed to Etsy’s sudden success, we still can’t say the marketplace is a one-hit-wonder.
In 2022, Etsy generated an annual revenue of $2.5 billion, which is a 10.1% increase from 2021. Currently, the marketplace has 7.3 million sellers and 94 million active buyers and reported a GMV of $13.3 billion in 2022.
The main difference between Etsy and other, well-known E-Commerce platforms like Amazon, Wish, or AliExpress is the fact that Etsy mainly aggregates individual sellers. While Etsy aids its sellers in the process of shop building and selling, it doesn’t sell the products on their behalf like Amazon.
Screenshot of a random seller’s shopfront on etsy.com
In this regard, Etsy is similar to Shopify. The Canadian E-Commerce marketplace also provides an opportunity for individual sellers to build storefronts and connect with customers. However, Shopify sellers are not specialized toward hand-crafted or vintage items, which means they offer a much wider range of products.
While Etsy is not considered a particularly problematic marketplace regarding IP rights, brand owners are definitely facing challenges on the platform. This mainly arises out of the fact that Etsy shops are typically operated by private sellers and not merchants authorized by brands.
This can cause many problems for brands, including grey markets, counterfeit products, trade- and copyright infringements. For example, this listing on Etsy is offering T-shirts with a slight twist on the well-known Nike logo.
Screenshot of listing on Etsy offering T-shirt with Nike logo
However, it’s quite likely that this seller is not an associate of Nike’s but a private individual offering their own creation. Unless Nike gave permission to this seller to make fun of its logo and catchphrase, this listing infringes on the brand’s copyright and may harm its reputation.
Listings like this can pop up fast and easily. Brands have no way of checking every single seller on marketplaces like Etsy to look for listings that may harm them.
This is where online brand protection experts like globaleyez can step in to protect your brand’s intellectual property, reputation, revenue, and much more.
globaleyez’s clients have faced several issues on Etsy. Copyright infringement is one of them. As the above case with the Nike T-shirt shows, it’s very hard for brands to check if someone is using their imagery without their consent.
However, online brand protection experts with the right tools can detect and eliminate threats to your brand’s copyright on Etsy right away. Look what the seller of an infringing listing sent us after we asked Etsy to remove it:
Screenshot of a complaint from a seller on Etsy
No, we don’t have anything better to do than protect brands from various threats. And if that leads to “complaining to Etsy about intellectual property” (which actually means demanding that Etsy remove the copyright infringing listing), then so be it.
Actually, the majority of Etsy sellers we catch in the act of copyright infringement are very apologetic and vow to never ever do it again. This is a fine example of how brand protection can make the world safer for all of us, one step at a time.
Or rather, several hundred steps. In one month alone, we had to ask Etsy to remove hundreds of copyright infringing products on behalf of our clients. Luckily, we have excellent cooperation with the platform and the infringing listings always disappear within 24 hours.
Another typical issue our clients are facing on Etsy is grey marketers. A grey market is when an authentic branded product is offered via an unauthorised distribution channel. This is not fraud and in many countries not even illegal; however, it’s still quite damaging to brands.
If you don’t authorize a seller to offer your products, you don’t have any legal relationship with them. You don’t have any control over their selling price, customer service, presentation of the products, and much more. Practically, these grey market sellers represent your brand without you having any say in the process.
On top of this, grey marketers distort the market, putting brands’ price and volume stability in danger. As it creates uncontrollable competition, it erodes the trust and margins in the authorized distribution channel.
It’s easy to see why grey marketing can cause immense damage to brands. But, like copyright infringement, grey marketers are very hard for a brand to detect. For globaleyez, on the other hand, tracking down grey marketers who sell your products without your consent is part of the job.
Our comprehensive services are geared toward detecting grey marketers, counterfeiters, copyright infringers, and any other threats your brand may face.
If you want to know who’s selling your products or stealing your copyright on Etsy, our marketplace monitoring service is your best chance. Our very own software tool, traxster crawls through the marketplace and tracks down sellers who offer your products (real or counterfeited), with or without your knowledge. We deliver our report and advise you on how to proceed.
Product pictures and brand imagery is often stolen or copied to help grey marketers or counterfeiters lure customers to their listings. This is why we developed our image monitoring service. infrimage, our software tool monitors and detects your brand imagery online and lets you know who is using your copyrighted images, with or without your consent.
Armed with our search results, the next step is to conduct test purchases. This means that we order the product from the unauthorized sellers as regular customers to discover their processes and to learn as much about them and the origin of the products as possible.
Based on our findings from marketplace and image monitoring as well as our test purchase, we flag unauthorized sellers and track their sales for a period of time.
This way we can find out how much turnover the seller is making in the particular marketplace and how much loss your brand is incurring as a result.
It helps us to find out who the "big fish" are and who is worth taking action against.
As a welcome “side effect” to our sales tracking service, your brand may see which markets would be worthwhile to enter.
For example, there may be an unauthorised distributor of branded products in the US (a market that a brand itself may not have tapped into yet) with considerable success and turnover.
This indicates that the market could be a suitable sales outlet for the brand. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
Finally, If you require us to do so, we can enforce your rights and assist with the takedown of fraudulent listings from any marketplace, social network, or even a standalone website.
If you’re worried that sellers on Etsy or any other marketplace are offering your products without your consent or stealing your brand’s imagery and infringing on your IP rights, get in touch with us.